Westenergy’s strategic aim is to promote the development of circular economy.
Westenergy and VEBIC (Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre) have launched a group of research projects that aim at discovering new business opportunities for waste-to-energy plants and solutions to development challenges in the waste-to-energy sector. The projects deal with developing Westenergy’s core business and recognise entirely new opportunities within circular economy. An important part of the research project is also to establish new networks and discover potential new partners with whom to take these innovative ideas to the next level.
Circular economy has been the framework for Westenergy’s operation from the very beginning. Already when the operation model of the company was laid out, it was recognised that not just energy in the waste but also ashes and metals in the ashes can and should be utilised. In this way, natural materials can be preserved and stress on the environment decreases.
Being able to utilise residues is of key importance, but we want to take material utilisation even further. With the help of further development, we aim at creating products also from those materials that cannot yet be utilised, such as fly ashes. One course in the research project is, therefore, to map out the possibilities to separate salts and rare earth metals from the fly ashes.
Our vision is that by 2030, in addition to materials, also energy, water and carbon dioxide can be recovered and reused. This work plays a key role when Finland is putting national aims on circular economy into action. Westenergy and our co-operation partners aim at creating an ecosystem of material efficiency and circular economy for the entire operation area that will cover a large part of the western Finland.
Due to the recognition of climate change, carbon dioxide emissions of traffic have widely drawn attention, and there is a change towards a more environmental-friendly direction currently taking place in the moving power of vehicles. Finland is relatively sparsely populated country, and there is an obvious need for rubber wheels in logistics also in the future, also within Westenergy’s operation area.
Westenergy’s operation area is geographically large, covering some 60 municipalities in the western part of Finland. There is, therefore, an obvious demand for emission-free logistics. Domestic biofuels play an important part in reducing traffic emissions, but leaders are needed to create real markets. Westenergy aspires the role of such a leader with its biogas project. When we promote biogas production and distribution in our operation area, we are also able to direct our own logistics towards the use of cleaner domestic fuels.
The technology of carbon capture and storage has been studied and developed for decades, and there are several pilot studies currently taking place. So far, the relatively high price of different solutions has hindered wide-spread implementation of such technology, but several countries in Europe have speeded up their research and development work in order to create cost-effective solutions for capturing CO2. Finland cannot stay behind such development and we believe that it is our responsibility to take part in promoting the development of carbon capture and its utilisation.
Westenergy’s aim is to be carbon-neutral by the end of 2020, already before the national deadline in 2035. To be able to reach that goal, we need to be able to capture carbon dioxide in the plant’s flue gases. This means, in turn, that we need to map out the most efficient and cost-efficient techniques for carbon capture and storage. We also need to find out partners who obtain expertise in the area and can help us make carbon circulate in a sustainable manner.